David Sterman

That car in your garage should be running on natural gas. With oil prices around $100 and unlikely to fall much lower in coming years, and natural gas selling for less than $3 per thousand cubic feet (MCF), the cost differential is far too big to ignore.

Consider this: $3 of natural gas gets you about one million BTUs (British thermal heating units) of energy. It takes about eight gallons of gasoline (or about $25 to $30 worth at current prices) to get the same amount of energy. The gas price is wholesale while the gasoline price is retail, but even on an apples-to-apples basis, gasoline is at least five to six times more expensive.

So why is Honda (NYSE: HMC) the only major auto maker selling a factory-built natural gas-powered car? Because Honda also arranges for consumers to fill up their tanks in their own garage through expensive, specialized devices. Simply put, if you buy one of these cars, you won't find a natural gas filling station nearby.

In his recent State of the Union address, President Obama appeared to tacitly support  a move to natural gas as a transportation source.

But as we know with Washington, even the most practical legislation is nearly impossible to achieve these days. Indeed, there are an array of natural gas users, most notably in the industrial sector, that want natural gas to stay cheap and abundant, so they've blocked legislation that would boost demand for natural gas at every turn.

David Sterman

David Sterman has worked as an investment analyst for nearly two decades. He is currently an analyst for StreetAuthority.com

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